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updated: 3/7/2014 3:19 PM

Still time for courage, specifics in governor's race

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  • Madeleine Doubek

    Madeleine Doubek


There are no profiles in courage in the Illinois governor race. I'm not surprised and I probably should know better than to be disappointed, but I am.

The level of discourse and detail in this all-important race is about an inch deep.

Early voting started Monday. There are 11 days until Primary Election Day, and neither the incumbent Democrat, Pat Quinn, nor any of the would-be Republicans have detailed what they'd like to do to get Illinois out of its financial morass.

Sure, state Sens. Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, businessman Bruce Rauner and Treasurer Dan Rutherford all have offered some tepid platitudes about wanting to roll back the temporary income tax increase. A couple of them vow to do it. Dillard and Rutherford hint they might need to delay that rate drop coming in January. Ask how they intend to make up for the $1.6 billion in lost revenue just for the second half of this year and they generically talk about pension savings not yet guaranteed, Medicaid fraud cuts and maybe some tiny nips and tucks from Brady, who wants to eliminate the state education department bureaucracy.

Incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn refuses to answer the big question about the income tax, while many Democrats all around him push for a move to a progressive tax. He's punted his budget speech until after the primary. The growing speculation is that he will add to that purely political move by offering only a six-month budget based on allowing the temporary income tax hike to expire so that we all can fumble blindly into the November election without any more insight into what he would do if he is re-elected.

All this avoidance from all the major candidates might be smart politics, but it's also a pathetic lack of leadership from men who seek to claim that mantle. There is one forum left, and there are several critical questions on which we all need answers, including:

• If you are in favor of letting the temporary income tax drop to 3.75 percent a year from now, then where, really specifically, are you going to find the $4 billion in cuts to state spending you'll lose in your first full year in office in 2015? School funding?

• If you're in favor of raising taxes, which ones, why and by how much? Income taxes? Sales taxes? Gas taxes? All of the above? If you're in favor of a progressive tax, why?

• Do you think the pension changes signed into law are constitutional? What do you think should be done to fix pension debt in the thousands of municipalities all over the state now? What's your view of end-of-career salary spikes that boost pensions? What's your view of public workers getting both a full salary and a full pension at the same time?

• What's your detailed plan for creating good jobs in Illinois? How will you carry it out? What's your view on keeping businesses from leaving Illinois? How do you intend to see that they don't leave?

• How will you lead us to do better by our children and grandchildren? What will your education policy look like? What will your approach to alternative and charter schools be? What about vouchers? What do you think of our current testing schedule? How would you change school funding? What do you think of the move to core curricula or an emphasis on science and technology?

• What can you and will you do to restore our faith in our state government? How would you improve transparency and accountability? How would you stem corruption? What other changes can you institute to end insider deals and patronage?

We still need answers to most of them, and I'm still hoping we get them.

• Madeleine Doubek is chief operating officer of Reboot Illinois, an organization devoted to reform in Illinois government. This column is excerpted from the Reboot website,, with permission.

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